Fall 2009


In May, ASCAP arranged for a group of composers and songwriters to walk the halls of Congress and express their views on a number of topics that are germane to the creative community. I was proud to be a member of this contingent that included many esteemed writers and also encompassed a wide spectrum of music creators who came from districts across the country to speak to their individual Congressional members. There were several issues at stake that will be dealt with in pending or potential legislation. Among these were the imbalance of trade with China and the fact that we are not being paid for our works when they are performed there. This imbalance is taking a significant toll on a potential income stream for creators. We, along with artists, are calling for a tax deduction for charitable works. Currently, living artists and other creators can only deduct the cost of supplies, rather than their fair market value. Proposed legislation would correct this inequality.

Although these issues will have an impact on our creative lives, the most significant issue for our community concerns the existence of a performing right in an audiovisual download. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC along with a hand full of other groups, including the SCL, have joined hands in proposing legislation that would guarantee such a right, and have made that a priority in the 111th Congress.

Currently, there exists an ambiguity in the copyright law as to the existence of a performance right in the download of audiovisual works. This issue and its consequence was front and center as we met with over forty senators and representatives, focusing on members of the Judiciary Committee. We met with members of Congress with such disparate politics and ideologies as Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Orrin Hatch, Representative Howard Berman and Senator Diane Feinstein. The over-all goal was to speak to the issue of fairness as we attempted to clarify a sometimes-oblique matter of copyright to legislators who sit on committees concomitantly dealing with issues such as health care and national security.

One of our primary concerns is stressing that as the delivery of our works for the visual media are changed over time, we are duly compensated, or to coin a term by Ray Colcord, that the compensation effected by this delivery should be “technologically neutral.” As in my case with the current television series The Secret Life of the American Teenager, many of your works are made available within hours for downloading on the Internet. It is an undeniable fact that content delivery is transitioning from broadcast and cable to online platforms and from there to digital downloads. As evidenced by information released in recent Writer’s Guild and SAG negotiations, there is reason to believe that within a few years all or most of television content will be delivered exclusively in this fashion.

Due to a 2007 decision in ASCAP’s rate court litigation with AOL, YAHOO, and Real Networks in the Southern District Court of New York, the performing right in a download is in jeopardy. The late Judge Conner, who oversaw ASCAP’s amended consent decree, rendered this decision. The judge, many of whose rulings in ASCAP matters over the past 35 years were beneficial to the creative world, ruled that a download of a musical work did not implicate a performing right, because the downloaded transmission of the work was not “simultaneously perceptible” by the end user. That decision is on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second

Circuit, with the SCL submitting an amicus curiae brief on ASCAP’s behalf. Although this decision did not specifically address downloading of audiovisual works, our adversaries in license negotiations with the PROs are citing this ruling in their efforts to avoid paying appropriate performance fees.

Inherent in the plight of the composer or songwriter for audiovisual works are certain realities, many of which are misunderstood. Our opponents include the Digital Media Association, Tech America, the Consumer Electronics Association, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, the Entertainment Merchants Association, the Net Coalition and the Internet Commerce Coalition. Of course, their motivation is simple; the companies they represent are very happy to exploit and profit from our work, but don’t want to pay public performance license fees for doing so. Unfortunately, we are in a transitional time that could allow for loopholes that could have dire consequences for our future.

Our opponents continue to argue vociferously that these rights that we are calling for are unfounded, and that in fact, we are trying to “double dip.” The misinformation being disseminated is great and our performing rights organizations are true champions in the battle. The fact is, we don’t receive domestic mechanical royalties and if our performing rights income were in jeopardy, we would in effect have a “zero dip” as Richard Bellis is quick to point out. The fact is, we haven’t made bad deals with the studios; it is one of the realties of signing work-for-hire contracts that the only right that we are afforded is that of the performing right. With the “up front” creative fees at an all time low in no small part because the studios argue that our compensation comes from the so-called “back end” this right is certainly one that must be fought for at all cost. Also of major concern to us is the foreign income that we receive as our works are performed around the globe. Most nations with strong copyright law recognize this right and if we are not able to obtain similar rights here in the US, the foreign societies could cut off that valuable income stream from our works performed overseas.

Walking the halls for the first time was an enlightening experience for me. I had the good fortune of being teamed with insightful and articulate minds such as Hal David, Roger Faxon and Jimmy Webb. We will continue to make our voices heard as the issue of performing rights in a download plays itself out. No doubt other issues will soon present themselves that will continue to challenge our way of making a living. Foremost, our activities in Washington will strive to illuminate the significant role that your unique contributions play in enhancing the lives of people throughout the world.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIV, Number Three, Fall 2009]


Summer 2009


Recently, the Society of Composers and Lyricists was fortunate to have our Honorary Lifetime Member and distinguished attorney, Jay Cooper join composer and this year’s ASCAP Henry Mancini Award recipient, Carter Burwell and music contractor, John Miller on a panel at the Black Box Theatre at New York University. As moderator, I asked each to discuss how the changing technology and the economic environment will shape and determine how all of us will do business in the coming years. In the audience were some successful composers and songwriters, as well as college students about to embark on a career path that is at best treacherous and at its worse seemingly impenetrable.

I am frequently asked how I would suggest one maintain a career or get started in a field that is highly competitive and that can be paradoxical; capricious at times in the rapidity one can launch their career and laboriously slow, taking years for others to get a foothold and make their mark. I think that the answer is that there is no answer, really. However, perhaps my biggest word of advice is to stay optimistic and positive, because someone is going to make it, so it might as well be you.

I am taking talent as a given in this scenario. Today there are many more talented composers and songwriters entering the work force than when I began my career. How one separates him or herself from the field is part of the challenge. What we do to prepare ourselves can determine the outcome because as everyone knows, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Networking and Common Sense. “Does this person make me feel comfortable enough to spend some time with, or will my life be negatively impacted with having to deal with this person on a continuum?” Not that I have any uncanny insight into the future, however I think that I can tell in most cases who will have an easy path or who may have more difficulty in establishing a career. It is amazing how many decisions have been made, based on a trust and comfort factor, because as we know, working on a project can mean a lot of one on one time. What does this entail? First, as important as something may appear to be to you at the time, try to put that in the perspective of the person you may be dealing with. I have come close to compromising a job or two by being obsessive about details that just weren’t that critical to really getting the work done. There are certain individuals that I’ve met that are absolutely self-absorbed and in the end, I would prefer they just mark me off their list. I remember a musician who would systematically call me the same time every month and when I finally took his call, I asked him to send me an example of his playing. Having hardly time to have received his submission, he started interrogating me about listening, finally culminating with his harassing me about returning the CD. You get the idea. It’s called using some common sense. Some are born with it, but others can do what they can to hone their skills at it.

Preparation. There is no excuse, particularly if you live in a larger metropolitan area, not to have a great education. In prior articles, I have written about the exceptional programs that are available, led by accomplished educators, many of whom have had a great deal of experience in the business. When I began, there were far fewer avenues for learning about the technique of film music or songwriting, but today they are literally hundreds of opportunities for better educating yourself and I feel strongly that a good education can be an important key to a successful career. There has been a great deal of literature written about film music that you can access even if you’re not in a large city. The legacy Earle Hagen’s books on scoring are indispensible and Richard Bellis has written about his experiences and observations in a fabulous book entitled, The Emerging Composer. Perhaps harder to find, Film Music, A Neglected art by Roy Prendergast gives a great overview on the history of our profession and the Film Music Notebook, published by the Film Music Society, as well as all of the great writing by Jon Burlingame, to name only a few, are ready references to fulfilling your palette in the intricacies of our profession.

Stay up on what’s going on. The trades are readily available, and are a valuable resource to what may be your first break. There are also other industry books that may help you find that first job. I had some success early on with a few cold calls, and you may unconsciously approach someone at just the right time. Also stay up on the evolving trends in technology. This is a little more seamless if you’re just getting out of school, but also important for those who want to sustain their careers.

Find your own voice. As I conduct question and answer sessions after our SCL screenings, I am astounded at the creativity that exists among our colleagues. There is so much imitation out there, that it really behooves you to strike out on your own and do something that is identifiable as you. Of course, once you’ve established that sound, it may be difficult not to copy yourself next time out, but what I’m talking about here is to reach beyond what everyone else is doing. Maybe there’s an alternative to the obvious textures that we are hearing time and again.

Perhaps most important to our community at large is to use integrity as you move through your career; integrity mandated by your own standards, as well as integrity to our profession as a whole. Keeping focused, driven and involved is good medicine for moving into uncertain times. Being a part of the SCL community, I can promise you, will also serve you well. The challenges to our industry are going to be monumental in the next few years. There are many of your colleagues who will be voicing our shared concerns in Washington. Many will be doing all they can to convince a sometimes disinterested and uninformed populace that what we do is worth being protected, worthy of respect and absolutely indispensable to the greater good of society. In my opinion, composing music and writing songs is the best thing that one could do to assure that it is an enlightened one. So keep up the good work.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIV, Number Two, Summer 2009]


Spring 2009


At this writing, I watched as we all did the history defining Inauguration of our new president, Barack Obama. The fresh start his presidency has given our country is mirrored in new opportunities that I am optimistic it will afford all of us as we move into 2009. Among the many attributes that I know that he will bring to his administration is a worldview that will elevate the impression of our country around the globe. On the heels of the election, I was already the beneficiary of that enhanced perception.

In mid-November, I had the great pleasure of representing the Society of Composers and Lyricists at a conference celebrating one hundred years of film music. Designated as the First European Film Music Days, the event was sponsored by the Federation of Film and Audiovisual Composers of Europe or FFACE as they are known, and ably stewarded by its president, Bernard Grimaldi and Delegate to the Committee for the Centenaire de la Musique de Film, Gilles Tinayre. I had met many of the participants when I attended Cannes in 2007. The SCL is seen as a world leader in the art of film music and that was one of the primary reasons that I was asked to participate.

Held at the prestigious Cite de Musique in Paris, the event was attended by composers, journalists, managers, publishers and other professionals involved in the music and film industries. Attendees from France, Spain, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK joined for two days of dialogue germane to our craft. Also in attendance from the US was Dennis Dreith, Fund Administrator for Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund.

Among the speakers and panelist was Bernard Miyet, who serves as President of GESAC, which represents thirty-four of the most important collection societies throughout Europe, as well as serving as president of the French performing rights organization, SACEM. Bernard echoed a consistent theme, which was not to underestimate the importance of enhancing the perception of film music and its value as we move ahead into the future. Both Ruth Hieronymi, a member of the European Parliament and Mercedes Echerer, a former Parliamentary member spoke of the challenges composers and artists are faced with and how critical it is to put a value on our talent. They pointed out, that as rulings critical to the composer’s best interest are being made, more awareness is essential in enhancing our position. The rights of the creator, which have traditionally been significantly broader in their scope than privileges we know in the US, are being eroded, and part of the mandate of this conference was to exchange ideas that could aid in countering these trends.

I had the opportunity to serve on two panels. The first one dealt with new practices regarding music for pictures, where I joined agent Maggie Rodford, who spoke eloquently about the changes that she has seen for her clients over the past several years. The second panel, which was moderated by Jean-Francoise Michel, Secretary General of the European Music Office in Belgium concerned education, and the role it is playing in the perception of film music as an art form. I was able to speak of the fine programs that have been put into place around the United States, such as Ron Sadoff’s program at NYU, Andy Hill’s program at Columbia in Chicago and the exceptional work being done at Berklee as well as local universities such as USC and UCLA. Not only was it apparent that the education of the young composer was important to our European colleagues, but the education of young directors in the discipline of film music seemed of equal concern. I pointed out that this has been the cornerstone of an ASCAP sponsored program put in place at Columbia in New York.

The first evening festivities included a live performance to picture of the 1908 film, The Assassination of the Duke of Guise performed by a superb local orchestra with music by Camille Saint-Saens. The same night, our Gold Member and composer extraordinaire, Patrick Doyle received their prestigious Film Music Trophy for his stellar body of work. Maggie Rodford, as well as the legendary Francis LaI, was there to celebrate both Patrick and John Powell, another of the evening’s award recipients.

On the last evening of the conference we traveled about two hours south of Paris to attend the final event of the Festival International Musique & Cinéma in Auxerre. It was a symphonic concert with 100-voice choir with Stephane Lerouge as head of programming and conducted by Laurent Petitgirard. Among the evening’s highlights was the performance of Non Nobis Domine from Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V by Patrick Doyle, with the composer featured as solo vocalist with orchestra and choir. There was also a rousing encore of SCL Ambassador Lalo Schifrin’s Mission Impossible theme. The most heartfelt number of the evening, I’m Dreaming of Home, was written for the French film Joyeux Noel by our own Senior Editor of the Score, Lori Barth and her collaborator Phillipe Rhombi.

Traveling back to the US, it reminded me of the similarity between the challenges we as composers and lyricists have with our European colleagues. More discourse and interaction with our friends around the world will undoubtedly lead, not only to respect, but will address mutual concerns and allow us to work together to ensure artists’ rights continue to be a top priority.

The issues we are faced with as a nation, particularly in financial terms, have been felt in our industry and in our careers over the past year as well. The strikes that have embroiled our profession have been precipitated by the uncertainties that plague our careers in the face of new technology. Ironically, the advent of the Internet has offered more opportunities for creators and our music will undoubtedly play a significant role as we move ahead.

The New Year gives us the opportunity to reassess our own goals and priorities, to nurture new working relationships and as always, to continue to perfect our craft. All of the turmoil not withstanding, I have never felt a more united front within our own numbers. This unity will allow us to work together, here and abroad, to find solutions for our particular challenges, as I am confident that the new administration will have success in achieving on a global basis.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIV, Number One, Spring 2009]


Winter 2008


By the time you receive this publication, a hotly contested presidential race will have presented us with new leadership. As we look ahead to the New Year, my hopes are that this new regime will be favorable to copyright and the dilemma and challenges of the creative artist.

I am happy to report that the Society of Composers and Lyricists membership continues to grow and we have you, our members, to thank for this. Your recommendations to your fellow composers and lyricists have brought our numbers to well over a thousand. I remember when I joined the SCL back in the mid- eighties, you basically knew everyone in the room, and we’d be lucky if there were more than a handful of new members every year. New board member, Adryan Russ, has done an exceptional job of finding new ways to grow our membership. New high profile members such as Mac Davis, Paul Williams and Michael Lloyd have joined many young composers whose careers are just beginning. Another reason for this is that the number of composers working in our ranks has grown exponentially over the last twenty years. My career began in earnest thirty years ago. I am sure that there were only sixty or so of us doing all of the scores. Now there are probably thousands of composers and I’d like to think that the work is being done at a very high level for the most part. The way our jobs are accomplished is dramatically different than when I first got started, but I still feel that the inner spark that leads one to be able to create and deliver an effective score or song is still the critical ingredient in a composer’s make-up, irrespective of the advanced tools we have the luxury to employ in the current day.

This last year has been filled with numerous highlights. I believe that our screening series was the best ever, as our membership had the opportunity to see every music and song nominated score. The opportunity to hear insights from composers such as Michael Giacchino, Patrick Doyle, Mark Isham, Alexandre Desplat, Carlo Siliotto, Dario Marianelli, Thomas Newman, Alberto Iglesias, Marco Beltrami and our second Vice-President, Mark Adler, as well as many more was invaluable. We also had the chance to hear Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken as well as Academy awards winners Glen Hasard and Marketa Irglova talk and even perform their songs for us. I personally want to thank Executive Director, Laura Dunn, as well as the numerous volunteers who went to great efforts to make these events what they were and continue to be.

Honoring those who have added greatly to our profession continues at our Holiday Dinner. Last December, Burt Bacharach and Dave Grusin were the latest members of our SCL Ambassador Program. I am pleased to say that Hal David and Lalo Schifrin will be following in their footsteps for 2008. Ron Grant, as head of our Media committee, has acquired some historic footage of these events over the past five years.

Sadly, this year marked the passing of a number of SCL members and .our thoughts go out to their friends and families. Recently Neal Hefti, my close friend and legendary arranger and composer, left us, and our first SCL Ambassador, Earle Hagen passed away last summer. Earle leaves a deep void in the annals of television music, where he was the undisputed king. It is some consolation that our organization as well as the music branch of the Television Academy, was able to celebrate him during his time. Thanks to Ron Grant, we are fortunate to have wonderful footage from that evening when Earle received his award.

Several of our members were recognized not only with Oscar and Emmy nominations, but awards as well. A number of others were recognized by their respective performing rights organizations at gala functions in their honor. Charles Bernstein, Lori Barth and Laura Dunn organized a world class Oscar reception at the home of Bonnie and John Cacavas last February, and the plans are to do the same for our Gold members again in the new year. The multi-talented John has become the newest member of our distinguished Advisory Board. His list of credits are monumental, with series such as Kojak and the Airport movies added to the countless band scores he has composed and arranged. Perhaps most important for this community was his involvement as president of our predecessor organization, the CLGA, and his service on the ASCAP board for many years.

The prominence of our members in the area of Game Music hit new heights when our board member Garry Schyman was honored with the Outstanding Composition Award during the Interactive Achievement Awards last February. Board Members Russell Brower and Billy Martin continue to bring their experience and expertise to the table as well. We are planning a major seminar in January to deal with advancements in that area. Our members such as Sharon Farber and Peter Melnick also continue to make significant contributions in the areas of concert and theatre music respectively, and we’re happy to be able to welcome new members into our ranks with these specific talents as our organization continues to grow.

Our Score magazine continues to be the ultimate source of information in our profession. Lori Barth continues her outstanding work as Senior Editor. She has delivered over twenty years of service to this organization in that capacity and we applaud her dedication to the SCL in the area of journalism. The SCL mentor program invariably fosters some new and unique talents. Chris Farrell, after a number of years of exceptional work, has passed the torch to Craig Stuart Garfinkfle, who will be steering some fabulous new talent through this term’s program, which include SCL members and students from the Berklee School of music in Boston.

This last year has not been without its concerns in the area of copyright and performing rights. As the Internet becomes the springboard for more production and as our works began to move from traditional broadcast to the Web, a joint concern of the performing rights organizations and the SCL is that we be adequately compensated for our work.

The SCL has secured meetings with Congressmen Howard Berman and Adam Schiff, as well Mary Beth Peters, the Registrar of Copyrights, in order to educate them as to our specific needs as composers working in the audio-visual medium. I feel that we have made significant strides in raising the awareness of the need to protect our interests as the means of delivery changes in our field Unfortunately, Congressman Berman will be stepping down as head of the sub-Committee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet and we are hoping that someone as sympathetic to copyright such as Congressman Jerrold Nadler from New York may be his successor.

At the time of this writing, I have planned to meet with the union of European composers know as FFACE in an effort, among other things, to engage in dialogue that could shed some light as to how other countries are dealing with some of our shared challenges. In celebration of the Centenary of Film Music, as it is being designated, our European counterparts have organized two days of discourse between composers around the world. Our colleague, Bernard Grimaldi, who now serves as the president of the group, felt that it was important that the SCL play an active role in these discussions. SCL Vice-President Arthur Hamilton was key in securing our organization’s place in this conference. The Europeans have always put the utmost importance on the role that music plays in cinema. Former SCL president Bruce Broughton served as the honorary president of the Ubeda Film Music Conference last summer and the event has featured our member’s works every year since its inception.

Our efforts in New York continue to grow and I’ve met with members of that community over the past year as well as speaking to a group of SCL members and students at NYU last May. It is my hope that a viable presence can help unite the film music community there, much as it did in the early days of the CLGA. Members, Joel Beckerman and Michael Patterson continue to aid in this agenda.

In closing, as we move forward into the future it has never been more important to be united as a community. We have seen how division within the ranks of our brother and sister organizations can lead to a malaise that is destructive on many levels. The Society of Composers and Lyricists has been—and will continue to be—the leading voice for composers and songwriters in the visual media. I am proud to be a part of this organization that is steeped in tradition, continues to award excellence in the field, and is a fore-runner in addressing issues that impact the well-being of our profession.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIII, Number Four, Winter 2008]


Fall 2008


New York City… I remember visiting the city with my roommate, Ladd Spiegel when we were both freshmen at Amherst College. I recall staying at the Waldorf Astoria, going to the theatre, seeing Gladys Knight and the Pips and realizing as Jerry Herman said, there was a whole world outside of Yonkers, or in my case Oklahoma City. I remember getting to go there again after graduation, staying at the Plaza going to see Words and Music by Sammy Cahn, going to see Kander and Ebb’s 70 Girls 70 hearing Errol Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, and Buddy Rich. The pulse of the city was infectious and I had my whole life in front of me and I knew that New York would play an important role in it.

Well, I still love it and when I became involved with the Society of Composers and Lyricists, I was surprised to learn that we didn’t have a chapter there, even though some of the most gifted composers and lyricists working in our industry call the city their home. As I researched further, I realized that at one time, there was a presence there that was equal to ours here in Los Angeles. But that was years ago in the early fifties and was headed by Arthur Schwartz, the composer of such classics as Dancing in the Dark andThat’s Entertainment. As a result, I’ve made it a priority to embrace that community and try to move things forward.

Over the past few years, the SCL has co-hosted a number of events, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of talented composers and songwriters who continue to make huge contributions to our profession. Recently I had the opportunity to present an evening of my music at NYU as part of Ron Sadoff’s Film Scoring Program, under the aegis of ASCAP and the SCL, which was moderated by Joel Beckerman. Joel has been instrumental in trying to bring the SCL to New York. His illustrious career and tireless energy have made him a key player there in our efforts to enlist the New York community. There are certain segments of our industry that are thriving on the East Coast. I asked Joel to give me his take on the state of the business there. I include some of his thoughts:

Sports still thrives. The one challenge in that area is that ESPN, arguably the leader in sports cable does NOT have a blanket license with the Performing rights organizations and often tries to get composers to give up their performance royalties.

Children’s programming certainly is big, mainly on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel.  News is perennial but certainly growing
with more channels like Fox Business launching.  Talk and reality on cable are certainly big.  The success of John Stewart
has led the way for others.   We all know that original talk in syndication has taken a beating lately, and except for Ellen and Oprah, is on the ropes at the moment.

Certainly there are many composers who are busy in advertising in New York, although not as many as in the past.

I would say that cable television in general is certainly a growth area for composers, especially as more and more cable networks (like Sci-Fi, TNT, USA, WE Channel, Bravo, etc, etc) have moved to do more original series.

The challenge is how to do the same high level of creative work with diminishing budgets.  A lot of composers are doing shows, which are hybrids of original music and library.

The SCL, along with ASCAP, presented Young Frankenstein with John Morris, a few years back. John has made his home in New York for years, as have other great composers such as John Barry and our SCL Ambassador, David Shire, our Advisory Board Member, Alan Menken and his 2007 Oscar nominated collaborator, Stephen Schwartz. I was honored to be a part of a celebration of our Advisory Board member, Charlie Fox at the BMI offices, which was attended by a number of influential New York writers along with, Del Bryant, Doreen Ringer Ross, Linda Livingston, Alison Smith and Charlie Feldman from BMI. Charlie Fox treated us to some of his greatest hits and his engaging personality made this truly an event to remember.

ASCAP’s Michael Kerker has been instrumental in helping us enlist the Broadway and Cabaret community. We were fortunate to have Marcy Heisler on a panel that included other esteemed writers such as Mark Snow, Maria Schneider and Rob Mounsey, with Cheryl Foliart representing the studio perspective entitled, Launching and Growing Your Composing/Songwriting Career. Marcy shared her travels through the world of Cabaret that have led to a Broadway play co-written with her partner, Zina Goldrich, along with Doug Hughes and Rob Ashford entitled, Ever After. I attended the opening of our talented board member Peter Melnick’s ADRIFT IN MACAO (book & lyrics by Christopher Durang), which garnered rave reviews and a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Music during its 2007 Off-Broadway run. Michael Patterson, artist in residence at NYU, and a composer. arranger and producer who, like Maria Schneider has achieved celebrity in the field of jazz in New York, has been another key figure in moving things forward in the city. I asked him to share a few thoughts, which I include here:

A composer’s point of view does change once he lives in New York for a while. New York is a live performance city! The concept of giving concerts is prominent in the psyche of the musicians here and of course this plays very strongly in the mind of the composer. Going to hear several concerts a week is not unusual. The quest for excellence in performance is part of the culture of both performer and composer. This has an interesting effect upon the artist. Not only is he required to know his craft, but is challenged to find his voice. Knowing your craft is just the beginning. I have found that the real learning goes on through my work with these amazing musicians. The default in this city seems to be to always get better at what we do. SCL is a good way to stay current and to network, and of course that is our intent here, as you know. I think the work is the prime thing here, whether it is theater, film, jazz or concert music, and bringing excellence to whichever field you are in seems to be the focus and concern here in NY- and the city is a great place to be for all artists. the city is international and you feel it when you walk out of your apartment!

Composer, Carter Burwell participated in a special event hosted by ASCAP, the Film Musicians Secondary Market, AFM Local 802 and the SCL at Columbia University entitled, Aesthetics and Collaboration. It provided a thought provoking forum that included a dialogue between Carter, director Steve Shainberg and Moderator, Alex Steyermark surrounding the movie, Fur, scored by Carter.

As the challenges to our way of doing business become more acute and our adversaries become more united in their quest to minimize the compensation for our work, it is critical that we join together in a global sense and do what we can to increase our odds of being heard. I thank those of you living outside the boundaries of California for your support of our organization and for those members on the East Coast, I would encourage you to attend our events and join with your colleagues as we continue to plan more activities in your area. New York is a special place and I applaud our colleagues that continue to make it the creative center it has historically been.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIII, Number Three, Fall 2008]


Summer 2008


I asked my predecessor, Ray Colcord to write an article for the Score some time back entitled, Why I Belong to the SCL. Ray in his articulate and insightful way enumerated his reasons and I thought that I might try my hand at elaborating some of my thoughts along the same line as I see it today.

Since I joined the SCL, about the time that this organization was transitioning from the CLGA, our numbers have grown considerably. We now count over 1,100 members and as I recall, you could fit our membership into a small cocktail room when I joined back in the mid eighties at the urging of my agents at the time, Al Bart and Stan Milander. Although this undoubtedly illustrates that the number of composers and songwriters working within our field are growing, I think more importantly it demonstrates that the spirit is alive to be part of an organization that is sympathetic to the needs of our unique profession.

Our membership has continued to grow and I am proud to be part of a group that not only welcomes inspired new talent like those members of our mentor program, but also includes new member and Oscar nominee, Javier Navarrete, one of the finest composers working today. Javier has recently moved to Los Angeles and has already used the resources of the SCL to help in his latest project.

High on my list as a reason to join our group is the camaraderie that I have tried to foster during my tenure with the SCL. This sense of community is nothing new. The gifted lyricist, Dennis Spiegel embraced me into the SCL when I first joined and continues to be our outspoken cheerleader. Jim Di Pasquale recently played me a wonderful song featuring Arthur Hamilton, and other members of the CLGA, extolling the virtues of our predecessor organization. Mark Snow expressed it well when he told a group of prospective members in New York, that the isolation that we naturally encounter in our profession is refreshingly counter-balanced with the activities and associations made through the SCL. Ours can certainly be a solitary profession, but being able to meet and inter-act with others in our line of work is a truly rewarding experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Not only have I made new friends, but through one SCL gathering, I met Alan Silva, who along with Steve Morrell, worked with me for eleven years on the series, 7th Heaven. This is not an uncommon story. I know many successful relationships have been nurtured through our organization.

Those members who have joined us at the Gold level or higher have had the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers with our Oscar and Emmy receptions. The majority of the nominees attend these gala events and it is the perfect opportunity to mix with friends and colleagues in a festive setting. It has always been my goal to instill an understanding that, although we often compete for the same work, we are part of a larger community that shares a passion and appreciation for our colleagues’ contributions. Our membership meetings are another excellent chance to be among our creative peers and we have been fortunate to gather at historic locations to share our experiences and accomplishments. I am particularly proud of the SCL Ambassador program as we continue to honor legendary figures in our profession every year at our holiday dinner. Recognizing individuals who, through their seminal contributions to our profession, have made it stronger and better has been a personal goal of mine as well.

I’m aware that there are times that one doesn’t have the luxury to come to SCL functions; in fact, we pride ourselves on representing the working artist. I can confidently say that the ultimate source of information about our profession continues to be our Score magazine. Lori Barth has been doing an outstanding job for over twenty years as Senior Editor and besides winning a Deems Taylor Award, the magazine has received accolades from our own members. Michael Giacchino, who we are so proud of this year, with his Grammy award and Oscar nomination, told me that even with his busy schedule, he reads every issue from cover-to-cover.

With the constant challenges that are occurring in our field, it is important to keep aware of those changes. One of the valuable resources we can provide are seminars that chart the movement in our profession. As I mentioned in the last issue of the Score, the talented panelists that explored potential challenges to our royalty stream in last summer’s seminar Where’s My Royalty? provided valuable insight into what we may expect over the next few years. This is only one example of dialogues that have featured SCL members and each one has provided important insight into many aspects of our profession.

The screening series has turned out to be one of the most valuable assets of a SCL membership. This last year alone we were able to not only view all of the Oscar nominated songs and scores, we also had the opportunity to gain the insight behind those and many other remarkable works by having today’s most talented songwriters and composers walk us through the creative process.

In closing, your membership has given us a collective power in numbers. Several SCL composers and songwriters have had the opportunity to meet with Congressional members and the Copyright office to explore how we will be compensated in the digital age. I can personally tell you that our position is being listened to and will seriously be taken into consideration as legislation is explored that could have a decided impact on our careers. That is largely due to the fact that we can point to a large constituency that will be watching these issues closely. Your membership can undoubtedly help effect changes in our profession.

Each of you, I hope, has found an intrinsic value in your SCL membership. As always, I encourage you to each be an Ambassador for our organization and enlist your friends and colleagues as we continue to grow our numbers. It will ultimately have a direct impact on how we are perceived as creators and as artists. In short our perception in the market place as a whole will be shaped by your participation.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIII, Number Two, Summer 2008]


Spring 2008


At the date of this writing, issues are still being decided within our community that I am confident will be resolved by the time you receive this publication. It has been a difficult time for many of you and I am starting to receive calls from colleagues whose final episodes are on the horizon in episodic television and I know there are many others who have been impacted by the unsettling state of affairs for some time. I have heard nervousness from neighbors about their friends in industry related-areas who complain that the strike has compromised their businesses and question the needs of a few that may affect the security of many. This is an argument that we all have heard during the past few months. However sympathetic we may be to their plight, the demand that creators be compensated in an equitable fashion is a noble quest and a bond that must be forged by all of us in the creative community.

I commend our colleagues in the DGA for putting in place a deal that hopefully can lead to our industry getting back to work. At the same time, the writers have been waging a valiant fight under the capable leadership of our friend, Patic Verrone, president of the Writer’s Guild of America, West. We trust that any agreement brokered with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will reflect the hardships that both sides, along with our entire industry have suffered over the past several months. It is also my hope, that if it hasn’t happened by this date, that their talks have a timely resolution that will yield significant gains in the areas that have been on the table since the onset of these negotiations. There is one thing for certain: whatever parameters are put into place in our sister guilds, particularly as they affect the internet, will have a decided impact on how our deals are structured as we move into a digital future of unpredictable and unseen dimension.

The understanding of the value of a copyright and the importance of preserving it is not an insignificant by-product of this current dilemma. The ease by which our work can not only be copied and shared, but also pirated is something that no one would have predicted, even a few years ago. The irony is that the larger issue should not be one that pits the studios against the creative guilds. The feuding parties have a much greater common goal to preserve their shared creation against global theft and therefore should be unified, creating their own alliance in mutual solidarity.

Within our own quarters, and not unrelated to the uncertain times of our industry in general, the act of determining how we are paid and who will be responsible for seeing that we are compensated fairly, is, to a great degree, unresolved at this moment. Attorney, and SCL honorary lifetime member, Jay Cooper and ASCAP board member Dean Kay* made it very clear at an SCL seminar last summer that it is important that we stay abreast of legislation that is in front of Congress. Our opponents are vigilant in stating their position. The more contact we can have with the Congress, particularly those on the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, and make them aware of our concern with the advances in technology and how they are impacting our livelihood, the better chance we have in seeing legislation sympathetic to our interests being enacted.

My personal hope is that our interests will fall under the domain of the performing rights societies. After nearly thirty years of working in the industry, I can say that the vision and guidance that these organizations have exemplified is unparalleled. As a young writer, I had no sense of the magnitude of the Buffalo Broadcasting vs. ASCAP decision in 1980-82, which reaffirmed the constitutionality of the blanket license on local television. At the time, it seemed to me to be another court battle, which applied to some limited area of our profession, removed from my day-to-day well being. Truth be told, the ruling in our favor, was not only significant to my well being, the blanket license preserved therein ended up providing the primary source of income from shows of mine such as Home Improvement and Roseanne, whose life after prime time has not been insignificant. Whatever challenges lay ahead, I am confident that ASCAP, BMI and SESAC will look for ways to protect our interests. They are also the leaders in intellectual property education at an early age. Programs that teach children the value of copyright have already been employed in out-reach education in classrooms throughout the country. ASCAP’s Donnie the Downloader program has been designed to educate American middle school students about music piracy and the real costs of downloading music illegally.

Another way that we can be proactive as the environment changes is to work with our agents and attorneys to determine if any language advantageous to preserving our rights can be inserted into the boiler- plate contracts that all of us have signed throughout our careers. Quite simply put, if our contracts don’t say we’re getting paid for it, we’re not. Perhaps as downloading, streaming, mobisodes, etc. are being dealt with industry wide, we as composers and songwriters can take advantage of this period to incorporate some changes of our own. In the beginning, it may be on a case-by-case basis, but eventually these types of efforts could lead to strides beneficial to our interests on a grander scale. There is no doubt that this will be an uphill battle, as even the most successful among our ranks are making little ground in some of these areas.

Our past-president, Jim di Pasquale, among others in the SCL, was instrumental in mounting a quest for recognition in front of the National Labor Relations Board in 1984. If successful, it would have helped in recapturing some of the ground lost during a strike and lengthy and disruptive lawsuit during the seventies. Although we were denied recognition at that time, another alternative to dealing with some of the challenges we have today may be to re-look at the collective bargaining issue that eluded us back then. The current labor negotiations will ultimately play a factor in the potential success of such a campaign, but members within our organization have regularly monitored the feasibility of unionization and will continue to do so, now and in the future.

Troubling as these times may be, I look optimistically towards a future that will provide even greater outlets for our music and song. I believe that although this is an age of technology that allows easier access to our work, the time is also fertile to present a platform that re-affirms that without our creative output, these devices and their facile use would be meaningless pieces of hardware. This is a message that needs to be presented, articulated and argued and it is our responsibility to play a part in the educational process; making sure that message is delivered loud and clear.

*Dean Kay offers an informative daily service called The Dean’s List. He provides links to articles from all over the world that pertain to copyright, new technology and music. He will be happy to add you to his morning reviews. Just go to Deankay.com and follow the website to the Dean’s List to be added to his e-mail updates. I would also strongly suggest downloading the seminar Where’s My Royalty? Past-President, Ray Colcord assembled experts, Christopher Amenita, Ted Cohen, Jay Cooper, Jeffrey Graubart, and Dean Kay to talk on many of the matters pertinent to our survival. Go to the SCL Store, Downloads-Members Only area on page 4 items 8029A&B.


Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIII, Number One, Spring 2008]


Winter 2007


I remember arriving in Los Angeles—a few too many years ago than I care to remember—after having graduated from an academically driven music program at Amherst College. Although my over-all experience there was one of the highlights of my early life, the music department’s curriculum had no inclusion of film music, and certainly no nod to any music with pop sensibilities. When I referenced my respect for the music of Burt Bacharach it was countered with, “I’m not familiar with that group.” Later when I expressed my appreciation for Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite, my professor arrogantly dismissed it as “movie music without the movie.” After leaving western Massachusetts’s answer to Dorothy Parker’s Algonquin Round Table, it was through the encouragement of Stan Milander, my agent, that I joined the Society of Composers and Lyricists a few years later and truly found a home. Although the numbers were small in comparison to the nine hundred plus that we boast today, it was a unique experience to mix with my colleagues in events like we are able to enjoy as members of this organization. Having the opportunity to hear the professional insight of SCL Advisory Board Member, Patrick Williams, along with the talented panel comprised of Christophe Beck, George S. Clinton, Lolita Ritmanis and Stanley A. Smith, like two hundred of us did at our annual membership meeting recently, is a singular experience; and it is only one benefit of belonging to this great organization.

This is the fifth year that I have served as president of your society and it has been one filled with many interesting activities. Laura Dunn has done an outstanding job of putting together screenings of some of the most celebrated scores of the year. All of the Oscar nominees in the Score category were showcased at informative question and answer sessions, giving great insight into the creative process behind their music.

We hosted our long running Holiday dinner last December, and along with a festive evening in a beautiful setting, we honored two members of our community without whose contributions our profession would be less than it is. Brilliant composer and songwriter, David Shire, who had recently scored the thriller, Zodiac, and Johnny Mandel, who has provided countless inspirational scores, arrangements, and songs over the years, were celebrated by their colleagues as the latest SCL Ambassadors.

Our Oscar reception, held in February at the home of John and Bonnie Cacavas, was a resounding success. At that event, we bestowed an honorary lifetime membership on Ennio Morricone with all of the score nominees and most of the song nominees in attendance, thanks to Charles Bernstein and Arthur Hamilton. For those of you who join the SCL at the Gold Membership level or higher, this event is one of the highlights of every year and we are going forward to host another one next February. Special thanks are in order for Lori Barth. Not only is she integral to the success of this reception as well as the marvelous holiday dinner, her tireless efforts in her role as senior editor of the Score continue to make this publication one of the crowning jewels of our organization.

The SCL was a sponsor of the Film Music Pavilion at the 60th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. I represented our organization and solidified our relations with our European counterparts, including the members of the recently formed organization, FFACE, lead by our colleague, Bernard Grimaldi. There were a number of discussions pertaining to the perception of film music and the way we are educating, not only the public, but also the entry level composers and songwriters as well. Also, the larger issue of protection of rights was explored. I was able to meet and discuss these issues with both Ennio Morricone and SCL advisory board member, Howard Shore, as well as meet composer members from Spain, England, France, Germany, Switzerland and Norway. A few weeks later, SCL members were featured at a film music festival in Ubeda, Spain. A few in attendance to perform their music were Bruce Broughton, John Debney and David Arnold.

Over the year we hosted a number of events where our members could join together and celebrate film music, including a concert at Disney Hall, featuring our honorary lifetime member, John Williams. I should mention that we have a beautiful signed page from Star Wars available on our website as a Famous First. John also entertained us at a sold-out evening at the Hollywood Bowl, which was one of three fascinating nights held there this summer for SCL members.

Our members continue to be a driving force in Game Music, and we are proud to have Billy Martin, Russell Brower, and Garry Schyman on our board of directors. I was pleased to hear that a number of our members are having their music performed at the impressive concerts that are being staged around the country featuring this genre. Through all of these concerts featuring our work we are continuing to increase not only the love and appreciation for our craft, but raise the awareness of its importance as an art form unto itself.

In August, our Gold members joined with Governors Ray Colcord, Ian Fraser and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to honor the Emmy nominees, which included many SCL colleagues. This is a wonderful way to celebrate our craft in television, and we are proud of our composers and songwriters who have excelled in this field.

Throughout the year we have held a number of informative seminars. Dennis Brown and Garry Schyman were responsible for putting two together, the most recent being, Creating Music Without Creating Lawsuits. Issues discussed were: copyright infringement, fair use, and the creation of parodies. When you are asked to create music to sound like existing music, just how close can you get without creating a legal headache? On the panel were copyright expert, Lon Sobel, forensic musicologist Danny Gould, and writers Julie & Steve Bernstein.

In June, past president, Ray Colcord moderated a panel entitled, Where’s My Royalty? (Composer & Songwriter Rights In The Digital Age.) The distinguished panel included Jay Cooper, Dean Kay, Jeffrey Graubart, Ted Cohen and Christopher Amenita.This is available as a download and I encourage you to review this informative seminar.

In August, Ilio hosted a product tour exclusively for our members. Demonstrated were a number of new instruments including those from a number of companies, including Spectrasonics, Synthogy and Applied Acoustic Systems. Later in the summer, our prolific board member, Stu Phillips, was showcased at AFI in an event featuring examples from his long running career, including handouts of a number of his most recognizable scores. We’ve been pleased to have Stu on the board of directors and that afternoon was a special one for all involved.

The SCL is getting things moving on the East Coast. I recently returned from New York, where our Advisory Board Member, Charlie Fox, was honored at a BMI/SCL sponsored luncheon at the BMI boardroom. Doreen Ringer-Ross and Linda Livingston were in town and among the highlights of the afternoon was an intimate performance by Charlie of his amazing catalogue of work, including Killing Me Softly. BMI President/CEO, Del Bryant, presented Charlie with citations recognizing seven million performance of that work. The luncheon was attended by many of BMI’s most celebrated writers as well as our good friends from BMI, Charlie Feldman and Alison Smith.

While I was there, Sue Devine and Nancy Knutsen at ASCAP, and Joel Beckerman arranged for a working session with some of New York’s top writers including Carter Burwell. Carter was featured at an ASCAP/SCL event in January, which was part of the Columbia Workshop, co-sponsored by Dennis Dreith and the Film Musicians Secondary Market. Those in attendance were presented an intriguing look at Cater’s score for Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus with the director, Steve Shainberg, moderated by Alex Steyermark.

In May, I moderated an SCL panel on Growing and Building your Film Music Career at NYU, which was part of the ASCAP film scoring workshop there, headed by Ron Sadoff and Mike Patterson. Featured were Mark Snow, Marcy Heisler, Rob Mounsey, Maria Scneider and Cheryl Foliart.

In August, BMI hosted a screening with the SCL of The Hottest State with the talented songwriter/composer, Jesse Harris at the DGA, New York and I was pleased to do a Q&A with Jesse as Chris Farrell had done the week before in Los Angeles.

This year has not been without its sadness. We have lost a number of special people. Recently Ralph Kessler, and earlier in the year, Basil Poledouris, SCL Ambassador, Ray Evans and board member, Harvey Cohen, to mention only a few. Poignantly, Shirley Walker made her last public appearance at our membership meeting last year and it was probably the last time many of us were able to visit with her. There is a wonderful tribute to Shirley in the last issue of our Score magazine.

The coming year has many things in store. We are well on the way to screening some of the years biggest films including the much anticipated, Enchanted, with Advisory Board Member, Alan Menken. The holiday dinner will once again feature the presentation of the SCL Ambassador Award.

Several of your board members have been working under the leadership of SCL second Vice-President, Mark Adler, in formulating the SCL Film Music Award. It will prove to be a great addition to the entertainment awards process and you will be hearing more about it shortly. Our mentor program is continuing to enlighten and inform and the caliber of the participants continues at a high level. I am pleased to see that many of these talented composers are starting to make their own mark in our profession.

The current climate in the entertainment field is presenting challenges to all of our creative partners, whether they are writers, actors, directors, musicians or recording artists. The latest dilemma, unfortunately, only one of many plaguing the way that we get paid in our profession, is the downloading of our music, and especially the downloading of television programs that contain our work; very often the next day, as in programs such as Lost and Desperate Housewives. Our board member, Garry Schyman has had discussions with Mary Beth Peters, The Registrar of Copyrights, helping her to understand that our needs are, in fact, quite distinct from those of the pop songwriter. Your past president, Bruce Broughton, through his efforts in Washington, is helping formulate legislation that could be critical in protecting our rights. Your loyalty to the Performing Rights Organizations will help mold as well as support the great efforts being put forth by them on your behalf. Perhaps most important is your encouragement to your colleagues to join the SCL, as we endeavor to make this the strongest organization it can possibly be through strength in numbers. As president of this organization, I will strive to make sure that our voice is heard loud and clear as we move forward into uncertain times.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXII, Number Four, Winter 2007]


Fall 2007


As I return from across the Atlantic, I am happy to report that our profession is alive and well and nowhere more revered and heralded than in the hearts and souls of our European colleagues. For the third year our organization has been a sponsor of the Film Music Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. In this endeavor, we have joined with our sister organizations in Europe, whose alliance The Federation of Film and Audiovisual Composers of Europe (FFACE) is responsible for creating this pavilion, which is dedicated to extolling the virtues of our craft.

At the urging of FFACE president, Bernard Grimaldi and the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund Administrator, Dennis Dreith and with the blessing of the Board of Directors, I provided for the first time, a physical presence for the SCL. Although skeptical at first as to how my attendance could add to our organization’s cachet, what soon became apparent was the significant place our country stands in the eyes of the European community, not only as a leader, past and present in film music, but with Hollywood as the undisputed center of the film world, my presence added a physical connection, reaffirming the SCL’s leadership role in representing our community.

In my five days there, the majority of my time was spent at the Pavilion, which had numerous highlights. The first day, SCL advisory member, Howard Shore spent time there discussing his multi-faceted career with those in attendance. He had been engaged in a panel the day before, and the afternoon provided an excellent opportunity to hear his thoughts on film music. Howard has always been concerned in advancing our profession, and among the many things that came out of our discussion was his interest in moves that could further enhance our bargaining position within the industry.

As Howard shared his concert appearances with us, it became apparent that a significant bi-product of his busy schedule is the elevation of our profession, along with the heightening of our prestige as film composers in the musical world as a whole. Our illustrious founding members such as David Raksin and former Composers and Lyricists Guild president, Elmer Bernstein would be proud to see the recent increase in the number of festivals that are showcasing our members’ work. Our great friend, Basil Poledouris conducted a festival orchestra at Ubeda, Spain last summer and Bruce Broughton, John Debney and Alan Silvestri, among many others are having suites performed throughout Europe.

One of the primary goals of the pavilion is to raise the awareness of the craft of film music. I took part in a round table discussion about how FFACE is reaching out to the composer community in their respective countries to raise the stature of our profession. Members from England, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and France have been active in education, much as a number of our SCL members have taught within our collegiate environment. FFACE has set up a task force to interface with the best universities in encouraging more programs to deal specifically with the discipline of film music. I indicated that we would be receptive to sharing some of our experiences in this area for our common good; programs not only for the film composer and songwriter, but equally important for the emerging film maker as well.

I had the opportunity to visit and interact with two colleagues from Norway. I was impressed that their organization was comprised of over five hundred members, although not all specifically involved with film music. One of these composers was active in a performing group of musicians whose ensemble utilized instruments made of ice; certainly the most unique form of musical delivery I encountered.

Chris Smith from England’s British Academy of Composers and Songwriters and I had an extended dialogue on intellectual property. In discussing the differences between our respective countries, I was reminded of the superior position that the European writers have found themselves in regarding copyright ownership. Whereas in the U.S., we as composers and songwriters have operated under the “work for hire” contract as independent contractors, with the studio or company being the author of record, our European counterparts have retained authorship over the years and in the majority of cases even retain publishing rights to their work as well. Regrettably, our American prototype is becoming more common in Europe and our colleagues are joining together through FFACE to try to protect the status quo and have been effective in many cases in thwarting this dissipation of rights. Fortunately the European model of receiving royalties for movie performances is still in effect and as Americans, we reap these benefits when our works are performed overseas. I also had the opportunity to speak to several of our colleagues about the dangers inherent in down loading and streaming. All felt that our collective interest could be served by recognizing that these are all issues that we as a global community can join together to find solutions for.

On Thursday, our U.S. contingency, which included Phil Ayling and Jen Kuhn from the Recording Musicians Association, and the ever eloquent, Dennis Dreith, presented an over-view of our respective organizations, which included a video presented by the RMA chronicling the evolution of a cue, using a composition from Hook by James Newton Howard as the example. I was given the opportunity to introduce those in attendance to the SCL and our presentations were followed by a question and answer session.

Perhaps the most memorable moment was walking the stairs as a collective body of composers. This red carpet event was made possible through the efforts of Stephen Melchiori and the Union of Film Music Composers (UCMF) from France. The procession was led by Ennio Morricone and included a majority of composers in attendance at Cannes. Following a screening of one of the contenders, We Own the Night, the maestro was celebrated at a black tie dinner. Maestro Morricone and I had the opportunity to visit that evening, as well as at a lunch in his honor the next day, hosted by the UCMF and their president, Gilles Tinayre. At a round table discussion, once again at the Pavilion, the Maestro spoke at length about his concern that composers be properly compensated for their work, and he talked specifically about the distribution of royalties on blank media sales. This is a revenue stream that American composers have not been participating in. SCL Board member, Garry Schyman has been hoping to rectify this situation and perhaps now is a good time to re-visit this issue. Maestro Morricone indicated several times of his pleasure at being honored at our Oscar reception with the SCL Lifetime member accreditation.

Following Cannes, I had the opportunity to attend a recording session in Madrid, where Alberto Iglesias was recording guitar tracks for the forthcoming Marc Forster film, The Kite Runner. Coincidently, I ended up on the plane ride back to the U.S. with him and was happy to hear that he is recording the orchestral tracks here at Warner Brothers with our great musicians. Later in the week, I had lunch with Javier Navarette in Barcelona, as he graciously took time during the last few days of writing the score for Jean-Jacque Annaud’s Sa majeste Minor, which is recording on the outskirts of that beautiful city. Both composers have expressed that one of the highlights of their respective Oscar nominations has been our SCL reception and having the opportunity to meet with their colleagues in an elegant setting, where our noble profession was the common thread.

The Film Music Pavilion was an unquestionable success and what became apparent to all of us was the similarities in issues that all of us have in common. As well as this most recent experience, I am fortunate to have met with representatives from composer organizations from Canada, Australia and New Zealand over the past year. As we move ahead into uncertain times, I feel that we will be closer to finding solutions to difficult challenges and raising the awareness and appreciation of our craft by uniting with the great talents throughout the world.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXII, Number Three, Fall 2007]


Summer 2007


During my tenure as president of our society, I have attempted to work with our talented Executive Director, Laura Dunn, and our distinguished board and advisory members to create an environment that nurtures a pride in what we do, generates a respect for our fellow composers and lyricists and certainly as important, promotes an over-all sense of community.

You will be happy to know that the reach and influence of our organization is expanding and is indicative of the global environment that our business is positioning itself in. By the time that you receive this issue of the Score, the SCL will have presented yet another informative seminar in New York. With the help of ASCAP and NYU, we are offering a program that will not only introduce our organization to up and coming composers and lyricist at one of New York’s most prestigious music schools, but will continue to integrate our mission among our colleagues who are already having successful careers on the East Coast. I want to extend my thanks to Joel Beckerman, Sue Devine, Mike Patterson, and Ron Sadoff for making this event possible.

Also by this time, I will have represented the SCL as we joined with composers and lyricists all over the world in celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. Our organization was once again a sponsor of the Pavilion of Film Music that celebrates the art of music in film. This year appears to be a pivotal time to be joining with other groups of creators and engaging in dialogue as to what we can do to make sure that our interests are being heard in the global market place. An alliance of European composer organizations, FFACE, was formed within the last year, and their president, Bernard Grimaldi recently visited with us in Los Angeles and attended SCL events.

In April, I met with SCL Gold Member, Pierre-Daniel Rheault, president of the Board of Directors of SOCAN and Jean-Christian Cere, the director general of the Societe Professionelle des Auteurs et des Compositeus du Quebec. We discussed many common objectives facing our respective organizations. They envision an alliance similar to FFACE here in North America, and we will be having more discussions about the practicality and effectiveness of such a collaboration.

This issue of the Score has informed articles relating to a number of the evolving technological changes that will be critical to how our works will compensated in this new landscape. It is imperative that each of us stays abreast of changes that will affect our livelihood. The SCL has planned an in depth look at some of these challenges in the form of a panel discussion, and by this time, we will have already provided our membership with critical information by some of the experts in the field.

No more important members of our community exist than our performing rights organizations. Every day, the way that we are paid as composers and lyricists becomes more complicated. With the Internet, streaming and downloading, it has never been more important than today to align ourselves as creators with organizations that look out for our rights. ASCAP. BMI and SESAC are forever vigilant in their protection of copyright and our creative output. Composers and lyricists have seen untold benefits as a result of their effective defense of our rights in court, such as in the Buffalo Broadcasting litigation, and without their constant voice in Washington, our rights would be in serious peril.

In December, Doreen Ringer-Ross and BMI hosted a round table discussion that featured an in depth look at some of the issues that have arisen over the past year. Richard Conlan and Alison Smith provided valuable insight into the way that their organization is grappling with challenges that are germane to our well-being. It was attended by some of the most successful SCL writers and it is BMI’s intent that these sorts of briefings will be held on a regular basis. Not only did the afternoon provide an insight into the complexities facing our industry, but also it added to a genuine feeling of camaraderie between fellow writers.

I have had a similar offer from, President /COO Pat Collins from SEASAC. Dennis Brown, head of the SCL performing rights committee is making plans to meet with Pat Collins, Pat Rogers and their experts in New Media to discuss their efforts on our behalf.

The feeling of camaraderie was never more evident than in April when several panels featured SCL composers and lyricists at ASCAP’s I Create Music Expo in Hollywood. I was pleased to see the good will being expressed by three of my favorite composers: Patrick Doyle, Brian Tyler and Marco Beltrami. Although we all compete on a certain level for the same jobs, a mutual respect has always been a hallmark of our profession.

Regrettably, I know that this harmony can be fragile unless all of us work together and keep this accord as a high priority. One of my first president’s messages was entitled 2004 Year of the Musician. In the body of that article, I paid testimony to one of the most significant groups in our community who comprise an extraordinary talent pool here in Los Angeles. In fact, as I have stated numerous times, I owe my career in a large part to the superb contributions that these fabulous musicians have made to my scores. Recently however, I have seen such animosity between rival factions within their ranks that it threatens to unravel this valuable sector. The irony for me is that I have friends on each side of the issues and their respective points have merit beyond the contentiousness that often clouds the bigger issues.

Speaking personally for a moment as a composer and not as the president of this organization, I find one of the unfortunate by-products of all of this discord is allowing groups to emerge that would profit at the expense of their own colleagues. One such group is the LA Buy-out Orchestra, euphemistically monikered as New Era Scoring. We have heard for years that some of the complaints of certain production companies revolve around the special re-use payments that musicians receive for their work when it is used in other mediums; new money, by the way, that is coming into the company that is generated by the exploitation of the musician’s work in other areas that weren’t originally contracted for. It is important to remember that these additional payments were negotiated through collective bargaining and through the hard work of our friends, and many times to the detriment of other deal points that were given up in trade.

New Era’s business model begins a dangerous precedent here in Los Angeles. If they succeed, the negative ramifications to our community could be far reaching. In the future, if given the option, what would be the motivation for producing companies to become signatories and make the re-use payments they are responsible for? I dare say if we were to turn the tables within our own discipline and if a sub-set of composers and lyricists were to emerge that would give up royalties and offer buy-outs to producing entities in order to generate work, our livelihood would be irreparably compromised. It is my hope, that despite their differences, our remarkable instrumental contingency can come to some consensus that will work toward their desired goals, and not at the expense of their fellow musicians.

Our community is built up of a number of integral components, all involving talented and creative individuals. Some factions of this group are creators and others look out for our interests as creators, but we are, in fact, one community. The more that we recognize the essence of this concept, embrace it, and do what we can to protect it, the sooner we will be able to move forward and work together for our common good.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXII, Number Two, Summer 2007]